By : Elizabeth Iwunwa and Taya Nabuurs
There are currently three candidates for the position of Vice President Student Life; Kaylee Jabbour, Esomchukwu Obinna V. Jr, and Sam Ferguson. The Cadre was able to sit down with each and ask them some questions
- How will you ensure that student dollars are spent wisely on events?
Kaylee: I would like to reach out to students and make sure that I know what they want to see coming in so I would be programming and doing events and putting money into clubs and societies. So I hope to talk to lots of people and different executives of clubs and societies and just the student body in general to make sure that I know what they want to see and that I can give them what they want to see and not just I think would be a good idea. If we get a band coming in, I want to make sure that lots of people other than myself would enjoy them. So I think that would be a good way to spend their money.
Sam: My campaign’s focusing on efficiency and innovation within students and their student life initiatives. We’re planning on rewarding students for the engagement that they show inside their clubs and societies and putting on events to support them and helping events that they put on themselves will be efficient and work well within the student union.
Obinna: I think the best thing would be recruiting experienced people in terms of a management team. So first, proper planning is going to ensure there’s no waste and will cover the bases in terms of making sure we spend the money efficiently. So, having a proper team, people to work with and planning essentially. And also learning from the past is very important. Going back into the archives and finding how much say 2014 Beach Blast cost. Going back and seeing if there was anything that they could have done to save cost.
- How would you reinvent or innovate with UPEI’s campus life?
Kaylee: I think that there’s a disconnect between Student Union and the students right now. And I think that’s just a communication thing and not necessarily because of the communications person. I think it’s just in general. Say if I was VP Student Life, I would like to strengthen my relationship with the Director of Communications and I think that would help a lot with relaying information to the student body. I think the Director of Comms does a good job, it’s just there’s not enough communication between everybody and enough talking and organization between the executives. And if we could collaborate better and be more open with each other, then I think the Student Union will get that information more openly and readily.
Beyond communication, I’d like to put some effort into clubs and societies because I think they are a good spot for strengthening the community we have for students to go and meet new people and network themselves, especially when they’re new to the campus. So club matchmaker is definitely part of what I would like to do. It is basically a quick online survey that a student could take and they could be matched with a few clubs and societies that would be good for them. I feel like it is difficult at the beginning to find out where to go, or what meeting to attend. But if a connection is made, they’d feel more welcome. I think it’d benefit all clubs and societies too because it’ll increase their membership. I also want to try to do more events that all clubs and societies can participate in. There’s the society trivia, so say once a month or once every other month, do like a big event that if a club and society wanted to participate in they could and that would build a community.
I was campaigns coordinator this year, so it was a new position and it was wonderful. I learned lots of stuff but because it was the first year it was going on, there was a disconnect and there was a lot to improve on. It needs more strengthening, structure, and direction I think. And I think the position could be great and it just needs that and I want to work on that position and try and make sure we can do bigger and better campaigns. The campaigns can be quite interesting and can last like a week or two. We can also introduce a couple of new ones and re-evaluate the ones we have going on now and try and make sure they have a direction.
Sam: My campaign’s planning on creating a Model UN almost of the societies and clubs; bringing their executives to work together on different initiatives in campus life, as well as encouraging more development through the portfolio of student life within residence and school spirit within activities and rec and sports games. We’re going to be supporting, as the Union, different events that are put on in residence and with activities and rec and vice versa they support our events. And just more collaboration within the Union and campus.
Obinna: That’s a very broad question because campus life in itself encompasses student life in general. So the idea is in my mind, I think focusing on extracurricular activities first would be the way to go in terms of programming and actually asking, because this is a growing environment in terms of diversity. So going and asking students what they’d like to see. Essentially a survey, because we have events that are already traditions for example the Halloween Pub. In my mind, it is a traditional event regardless. When it’s time for Halloween, people come out and have fun. So I think adding a few new events in the sense, at least something we’re not used to. I know this is going to take lots of research, consulting with other schools to see what they’re doing and what works for them and what they consider to be tradition. Then we can bring it to UPEI and make it work. That’s in terms of activities. So for community building, really focusing on the societies. It’s imperative we do that, and I actually outlined that as one of my platform points. So actually digging deep to finding what happened to societies that have gone extinct or societies that have collapsed. Reaching out to their members and seeing what they’re up to these days, seeing what they’re doing now and actually learning from what happened. Again from the past, and trying to see if we can bring their community together again. That would be one of my major focuses. Now for active societies, my goal would be to actually try my best to make sure they’re satisfied in every sense. So finances, support, workshops, whatever they need to actually grow and improve. Because if the societies are happy, the students are happy. Because in a community where there are no groups of like minds to actually bounce back ideas, everybody is just separate it really doesn’t have that cohesiveness if you ask me. So I think focusing on the active societies to actually grow them and make sure they are not lacking in any sense in terms of knowledge of finances would be a good way to reinvent campus life.
- What would you prioritize; clubs and societies, programming, or non-academic advocacy.
Kaylee: I think that I’d like to focus equally on clubs and societies and programming because I think they’re quite important parts of the portfolio of VP Student Life. I also feel like non-academic advocacy usually gets pushed back on this platform because the other two are so big. So I’d like to increase how much non-academic advocacy gets done. But it’ll probably still be one of the small parts but definitely programming and clubs and societies. Because I feel like usually it’s one of the other, but I’d like see more of a balance between the two because they’re both so important because different people are interested in different things.
Sam: I believe all three are important to the Student Union, and I’ll be spreading my focus evenly among all three. My personal interest in non-academic advocacy will not hinder my approach to clubs and societies or programming on campus, I will focus on it equally with the other two and I’ll foster new engagement and innovation within programming and clubs and societies.
Obinna: In my mind, they all have a place at the top. I really wouldn’t put anyone over another. Because non-academic advocacy is super imperative. Next, clubs and societies, you have to. And then activities. I really would not put any above another because in my mind they are of equal value so I really would not stratify them.
- You’ve been Campaign Coordinator for the past year, what in your record indicates you can innovate?
- Being the campaign coordinator wasn’t one thing. You never did the same thing doing any campaign. So I did Get Out The Vote(GOTV), Shinerama, Sex Week and they’re all just so different. Sometimes it was planning an event, sometimes it was fundraising so I think that experience would be very beneficial for the position just because I got some experience a little bit at a time, a taste of everything. Nothing was ever just me, I think GOTV was a very forward campaign and it was great to see students go out and vote. I don’t want to take credit for anything and say that I did everything. I think that was probably the most innovative campaign, probably because it’s never really been done before, and we just took it full stride and went for it. We had a great voter turnout and that was really interesting for me because that was so new. I’m a Biology student so I have nothing to do with that and so they taught me about it and that was probably the most interesting thing I got to do this year as Campaign Coordinator.
- You’ve had no experiences with any elected SU positions. What experiences show that you’re ready to take on the job?
- I’ve been an active member of campus for the last two years and I’ve been on four different club executives throughout my time at UPEI as a young first and second year student. I believe that with my committee work as well on the Student Union, with Advocacy Team, Street Team, and the Library Governing Committee, I believe I’ve gotten good polls** for the student life on campus and will work well with all the other executives in all our operations.
- How do you ensure that Student Union activities are inclusive for all and not consistently geared toward a specific demographic?
- I depends on what kind of activities we’re talking about. Now I’ll take a party for instance, if we’re going to have say a back to school party, the idea is people are coming to listen to the music and have fun. So we’ll start with, what type of music is dominant in the society? We’re used to that type of music but the idea is to include. Again when you say demographic, it’s really confusing. Because we have the domestic students and then we have international students. Although this is a very shabby way to group the diversity we have on campus, I’m just going to do that right now. So, it’s easy for someone from Charlottetown to identify with DJ Skratch Bastid for instance compared to me, I really don’t know how. So if in our mode of advertisement we say we have DJ this from Nigeria for instance and DJ this from China, it might just help attract a more diverse crowd in my mind. I think targeting our advertisement and actually designing events say we have a party on the Chinese New Years. Again, the best way to meet people is to reach out to them. When you reach out to people, they feel special. They feel like they have value because you’re actually thinking of them. So the way things have been is we make posters and it’s just the same thing. We’re speaking to the same set of people. So I think reinventing the mode of advertisement is really important in terms of the message that is contained in the advertisement and the content of the entertainment. So the DJ, type of advertisement, and just doing a good job at reaching out to people and telling them, “you’re part of this campus and you’re part of this life, come out and have some fun!”